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Address psychological need of cancer patients too: Kalam

Staff Reporter
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Asks specialists to workout methodologies along with psycho-oncologists

State-of-art facilities:Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam getting to know about the new facilities at Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research in Coimbatore on Sunday. P. Guhan (left), Director of the institute is in the picture.— PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN
State-of-art facilities:Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam getting to know about the new facilities at Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research in Coimbatore on Sunday. P. Guhan (left), Director of the institute is in the picture.— PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

Psychological care of the cancer affected is very important, for the family of the affected is usually shattered, said A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President, at a function held at Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research in the city on Sunday.

Apart from psychological treatment, doctors should also provide physiological and immunological treatment to the affected.

“Cancer has the potential to impact all facets of the individuals touched by the disease, physical, psychological, emotional, social, financial and spiritual. Unfortunately, the patients are not approached in a holistic manner; the psychological issues are never addressed.”

Mr. Kalam was at the Oncology Institute of the Sri Ramakrishna Hospital to inaugurate the Linear Accelerator, which is also capable of providing Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, Image Guided Radiation Therapy, Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Stereotactic Radiotherapy facilities.

He said he was aware of the nation-wide study the Centre of Psycho-oncology for Education and Research conducted on the prevalence of psychological distress in cancer patients in India. Defence Research and Development Organisation funded the project. The pilot study included 3,000 cancer patients across 20 cancer hospitals in the country.

The study found that 40 per cent cancer patients experienced moderate to severe psychological distress that warranted professional psycho-oncological intervention. There were 10 lakh cancer patients in India at any given point of time. That translated into 7.2 lakh cancer patients requiring psycho-oncological care, which was not available at present in all the centres in India. Mr. Kalam said he would suggest the specialists to workout methodologies in consultation with psycho-oncologists to remedy the situation.

Nano-drugs

The former President said cancer treatment often involved a combination of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. The treatment process consumed time. To overcome the problem, doctors could try genetic diagnosis, as it could help take good decisions while charting the course of therapy.

On the drug side, instead of looking for agents that killed dividing cells, researchers were now looking for agents that encouraged dividing cells to get destroyed. Many drugs, called anti-angiogenic agents were imported and were very expensive. Industry-hospital-research institution consortia need to be established to develop affordable indigenous products, especially using nano-technology.

He then said that there was need to carry out study and bring out medicines in nano form for the drug delivery to cancer patients. Mr. Kalam spoke about the need for creating awareness through cancer education. It was important to educate the general public about the risks of exposure to tobacco, alcohol, which were considered to be the major factors for causing lung cancer and esophageal cancer.

Education on cancer should begin as early as in the primary schools so that children remained immune from the impact of such diseases. And every effort must be taken to make India tobacco-free.

C. Soundararaj, Managing Trustee, S.N.R. Sons Charitable Trust, said that the Institute had treated 25,000 patients, provided free medical care and treatment to 300 children, conducted free screening camp for 1.70 lakh women and planned to do more. P. Guhan, Director of the Institute, welcomed the gathering. R. Vijayakumhar, Joint Managing Trustee of the Trust, proposed the vote of thanks.


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